Solidarity with Iranian Women and Protesters
Our Acting President Marion Böker signed the Solidarity Statement on behalf of IAW.
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We Stand in Solidarity with Iranian Women and Protesters
We, the undersigned feminist and human rights organizations, stand in solidarity with the courageous women in Iran who have taken to the streets to peacefully protest the death in custody of Mahsa Amini and to demand their bodily rights.
We also express our profound sympathy to the families of the incredible Iranian protesters who have lost their lives to the ongoing brutal police crackdown in response to peaceful demonstrations. We urge all feminists and women human rights defenders, and their organizations in different countries and particularly in the MENA region, to stand in solidarity with Iranian women and amplify their voices through all means possible, especially now that Iran’s government has severely limited internet access across the country.
The weeks have witnessed unprecedented scenes of protesting in Iran. For the past four decades, the Iranian government has violently imposed mandatory hijab and other laws to limit women’s social and economic participation in society and force them out of the public space. Despite violent crackdowns against women who have consistently and peacefully expressed demands for change, we are now witness to the Kurdish motto of “Women, Life, Freedom!” being chanted by Iranians across the country.
Protests broke out in Iran following the September 16 death of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini, a 22-year-old woman, in police custody three days after she was arrested by “morality” police for allegedly wearing her headscarf loosely. Mahsa was on a family trip to Tehran, but within a few hours of going out with her brother, she was in a coma in a hospital bed due to sustained brain injury and never recovered. Despite threats by intelligence forces for a quick burial in silence, Mahsa’s family refused to succumb and took her body to Saqqez, her hometown. Women at her funeral took off their headscarves and widespread protests in Kurdistan province were ignited. This collective mourning of a life lost so soon and so unjustly, escalated into countrywide protests with women at the forefront of every demonstration.
In recent months, Iran’s government has ramped up arbitrary arrests and judicial harassment of civil society activists, especially women’s movement activists, in a blatant attempt to silence those who speak up against systematic discrimination and repression. At the same time, we have witnessed increased violence from the so-called “morality” police patrols toward women. The case of Sepideh Rashnou from July of this year was a vivid example of these often violent encounters. Sepideh was arrested soon after her verbal argument on a bus with a mandatory hijab enforcer went viral. Sepideh was violently arrested, kept in solitary confinement for weeks, and released after she had to make a forced televised confession where she clearly had a bruised face and was in poor health.
Iran’s recent protests are referred to as a feminist revolution. Young, fearless women in the streets are taking off their headscarves and setting them on fire right in front of massive line-ups of riot police forces and demanding freedom. These protests have now gone beyond all divides, and men in large numbers are supporting these fierce women. Even in small cities with more traditional beliefs, everyone is chanting “Women, Life, Freedom!”
Many women are sharing videos of themselves cutting their hair to protest Mahsa’s killing. Several women Iranian artists and celebrities forced to comply with mandatory hijab have joined the movement by posting videos in which they take off their hijab despite the repercussions that this might have on their careers. Celebrities and athletes are among others who are supporting Iran’s first-ever feminist revolution by stepping down from their sports teams or supporting protestors in interviews.
As the protests continue, the government has escalated its massive crackdown, and scores of women human rights defenders, journalists, students, human rights lawyers, and ordinary protestors have been arrested. Based on recent reports from human rights groups, over 100 protesters have been killed by security forces. The government has also imposed another internet blackout to block people’s access to social networks and messaging apps to suppress the protests. This is similar to the pattern used in the 2019 uprisings, which blocked communication in social networks and messaging apps to stop people from sharing images from protests and images of the violent and bloody police crackdowns. However, the voices of women and feminist groups are amplified by their sisters and peers in many countries. They have stood in solidarity by organizing protests and publishing videos supporting the movement in Iran.
We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with Iranian women who are protesting the unjust killing of Mahsa Amini and who are demanding democracy as well as rights to bodily autonomy and fundamental freedoms all over Iran. Furthermore, we urge our feminist sisters in international organizations and regional groups to show their solidarity in any way possible.
Our Demands and Recommendations:
We urge the UN Human Rights Council to condemn the violent actions of the Iranian government against women and hold them accountable for the suppression and killing of protesters.
We urge UN member states to to support calls for a UN led investigative mechanism on Iran through the adoption of a resolution during an urgent session of the ongoing 51st regular session of Human Rights Council.
We urge the UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls, the Special Rapporteur on Elimination of Violence against Women, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, the Special Rapporteur on Peaceful Assembly, and other UN mandate holders to investigate and report on the systematic violation of the rights of Iranian women and protesters by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The UN and member states should work with the government of Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government to ease border crossing restrictions for those rights defenders fleeing to safety and should work to ensure the safety of HRDs in these countries. Governments and the UN should facilitate and expedite refugee status and the repatriation processes of Iranian HRDs, and especially WHRDs, in neighboring countries who are at risk of extrajudicial retaliation by Iranian authorities.
We urge the governments of countries with diplomatic ties to Iran, especially Global South and non-aligned states, to summon the ambassadors of the Islamic Republic of Iran and express their concerns over the killings of protesters, the violence being used against protesters, and the widespread arrests of human rights defenders, journalists, student activists and political activists.
Donors should consider expanding urgent support funding for human rights defenders, especially women human rights defenders facing threat and risk, including fellowship and respite opportunities that are more flexible and easy to access.
We ask international and regional human rights organizations to take a stance on the recent events in Iran, to follow up on the situation of those detained, press for their release, and demand that Iranian authorities ensure their safety and health while in detention.
We ask the international and regionally focused journalist associations and unions to condemn the arrests and arbitrary detention of Iranian journalists in recent days, especially the female journalists who have been at the forefront of reporting on recent developments.
We ask feminist groups and organizations to continue supporting Iranian women and their demands for rights and bodily autonomy through protests, peaceful gatherings, statements, production of artwork, and through other means.